Inauguration eve contemplations

Will I really be the first one?

I feel sort of weird that I will be the first one to make the post on tomorrow. You know, that history-making, nation-changing, beginning-marking, hope-inspiring day otherwise known as Obamapolooza. It actually started on Sunday with a concert, and will end with the swearing in of the 44th American president (except not really, since there’s still the inaugural ball in the evening, not to mention all the media that will probably linger like an untreated headache).

This is my first post -in fact, I’ve never blogged before. So it feels strange that I’m talking about something that’s supposed to be so momentous the first time I try to make my thoughts publicly readable. To introduce myself, I’m a second Arts student at UBC. I lived in Taipei and Boston before moving to Vancouver, which actually makes me Taiwanese-American-Canadian.  Which is maybe why I actually feel the need to write something about Obama.  After all, it’s not as if he’s lacking attention.  I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t have a US citizenship, I’d still care about him.  I would’ve probably still teared up during his victory speech (keep in mind, I also teared up at the end of Cheaper by the Dozen).  But this inauguration is making think about the nature of having to hyphenate my nationality.  It’s always been as source of pride and confusion, this tri-citizenship.

I remember writing an essay in grade nine, trying to make sense of what it means to be American.  I can’t say I’ve gotten very far on that subject.  Even with all the definitions of nation that exists and all the debates that surround the meaning of that word, I can only go by what I’ve experienced.  I know I feel a sense of obligation to be loyal to the US, Canada, and Taiwan (depending on whether or not you think the last is a country).  I also feel an obligation to be informed on the politics of these places, and am ashamed because I do not consider myself well-versed in politics at all.  I know I have a lot more paperwork as a result of this situation.  Every time I read something where one of these countries is well-represented, I feel ever so slightly prouder.  Conversely, I go ‘oy’ inside when the opposite happens.  I also  feel like this citizenship thing is a little bit arbitrary for something that’s supposed to be part of my identity.  I was only born in the States and lived there a total of two years; it feels strange to be attached to that country just because of that.

Anyway, a lot has been said about how Obama is able to inspire and engage people.  This whole hoopla seems exaggerated to me in a certain sense, but it also makes me a little bit more involved in one of the countries I’m supposed to be a part of.  In the end I think Obama really just makes me realize: I have to work at being Taiwanese, Canadian or American – because I have to make the labels that have been given me my own. Otherwise they really will be arbitrary.

Any particular feelings that Inauguration Day brings out in you?

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terryman

Tiffany is twenty and a citizen of two and a third countries. She is firmly unscientific in her thoughts, preferring the arts even though she got better grades in science during high school. She is not exactly sure what she's doing at UBC (it must needs do with learning, growing?) but there she is. IR and French are her focus- but then again she is sort of unfocused in general.

4 Responses to “Inauguration eve contemplations”

  1. Brenda

    Either “I’ve never seen so much black people shown consecutively on news channels without some kind of negative connotation,” or “There’s a really disproportionate amount of happy black American citizens.” On CTV, one white lady remarked how Obama’s election teaches her children that they can achieve anything they put their minds to, which made me cringe, as if everyone before Obama just didn’t try hard enough.
    To summarize, race was not a big issue for me in his election, but I feel as if it’s being forcibly drilled continuously into me as one.
    Oh, and another Taiwanese-Canadian? Right on!
    (realizing that my last statement might seem like some kind of ironic twist to my comment)

  2. Jamie F

    I’m thinking he’s thinking… “O.K. no pressure…”

    Oh, and why is it that at the ball, we have “Signed Sealed and Delivered” being sung by all those rock stars, when Stevie himself is there and (seriously people) can do it best on his own?

  3. Stephanie

    Brenda,
    I feel like I need to counter your comment, and I am not sure where to begin. Do I: list the atrocities that American history harbors in order to convey the important racial stepping stone that Obama’s presidency signifies (which I would assume is obvious to you) to not only “black people”, but all Americans? A myriad of hate and oppression mixed with years of racism has not just been wiped away of course, there are years of subconscious cultural scars that are still healing in America; and there are indeed still severe “race issues” (your term) in America, so even if race is not an issue for you personally, it is still very much an issue for a large percentage of Americans, including myself.
    … Should I talk about the several inaugurations I have watched where they film and broadcast all the happy White people? Seeing a Black president taking the oath is going to affect Black Americans whether we want to see it as an “issue” or a benefit, or even if we want to ignore it.
    Maybe I should talk about the TV show COPS, running for over 10 years, and ALL the black people they show very unhappy on that program? What’s wrong with showing happy black people on TV?
    Perhaps you’re speaking of their televised presence in terms of exploitation… as in, they never show black people on TV and now they’re using their very emotions for higher ratings? But that isn’t how I interpreted your comment. I interpreted that you don’t like race being brought to the forefront of the inauguration or Obama’s presidency, you don’t want race to be an “issue”, but it is a very important factor of the inauguration; Obama being half black is not an “issue” and it is not a problem, it’s a solution and a benefit, to bringing a significant group of people a new champion and mentor; a new path that has, in our past, been blocked.
    For not caring about race, you brought up three different races in your comment: Black, white and Taiwanese-Canadian.

  4. Brenda

    Stephanie,
    You have nothing to counter. I agree with you, I guess my ineffective sense of irony didn’t convey it well.
    As the statement of race not being an issue, my meaning was that I sincerely hope that our generation will move beyond not only racism, overt and covert, but also beyond identity politics. Beyond the pride for “one of our own.” That although his mixed race is a facet of him that has excited people and brought hope, that Obama’s legacy of “change” will be also evident in his policies and contributions to his communities, the American people and the world at large. Do I think we’re there yet? No, and I think our misunderstanding demonstrates that.
    And I do realize the irony of my last statement. I personally am not beyond labeling myself yet either; we’ve all got a ways to go.

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